I love sleep. Love, love, love sleep. Sleep is a religion. I pray for its beneficence each day. I honor everything it is and what it gives to us. I was religious about sleep before Monchichi and am now one of its most ardent followers.
Religion or not, I don’t know of a topic that generates more passionate opinions among parents than getting your baby/child to sleep, which is ultimately, all about your sleep. So many opinions, that there are hundreds of books on this topic alone. Books, which you know I’ve read in vain.
I fully expected the first 12 months of sleep to be rough. Everyone regales you with stories of sleeplessness nights, you see the battle wounds of dark circles under their eyes and when your baby arrives, you brace yourself for battle. At that moment, the sleep debate begins among your friends.
There are so many choices. Co-sleep, bassinet, crib? When do you move the baby to a crib? How do you get the baby to sleep through the night – the Ferber method of crying it out or slowly weaning them off soothing? What time do you put your baby to bed? How many hours does he sleep? How long are his naps? Do you ever wake her from her nap so you can get her on track for night sleep?
The questions were endless and when Monchichi hit 4 months, I searched the internet and voraciously read as many books as possible because I was frantic to find a solution. If sleep is my religion, then its deprivation would be my ultimate form of torture (whining is a close second). That fog of exhaustion that sat in my brain started to become a tight, uncomfortable pressure. I got cranky beyond belief, to the point where I didn’t even want to hang out with myself. Forget about thinking. I congratulated myself each day just performing the most basic daily functions, but I wanted more than to just time-punch a clock as a mother and wife. Must. Get. Sleep. Must get Monchichi to sleep.
I cobbled a solution of sorts but only after embattled weeks of Monchichi crying it out while I looked at a clock, watching each heartwrenching minute tick by, telling myself to hold out 5 more minutes. But then the heavens parted, and restful nights was my reward. I was feeling back to my old self again.
After the 12 month mark, the conversation among friends and family seemed to die down. Babies were sleeping. Everyone seemed to have figured out a sleep solution that worked for them.
Now, I see the sleep issue creeping back and there’s very little chatter going on. I think it’s because the expectation is that (1) it’s supposed to be figured out by now, and (2) I suspect kids are just sleeping with the parents after all is said and done, just to get through the night.
What prompted the resurrection of this topic is that I find myself on the fence of what to with Monchichi right now. This indecision is further clouded by a conversation I had with some friends a number of months ago, who casually mentioned that their kids sleep with them. The friends added that it was only on the nights their husbands traveled. My husband, like theirs, also travels a lot. One woman had a rotation arranged with the three kids as to whose night was their night with her. Her children ranged from 10 – 4 years old. The other woman had a 6 and 4 year old and they just climbed in the bed on the nights their dad was out of town.
It was not a good a-ha moment for me. This sleep thing ain’t going away. We’re in this for another 8 years, for sure.
Here is my current crossroad. We’ve had a horrible winter of illness in this family. Whenever Monchichi is sick, she gets to sleep with us. Once she’s better, we retrain her to sleep through the night in her own bed. Those are painfully long nights. Because of this run of colds and flus, she has slept with us for a month straight. My husband and I have had our own share of being sick so no one has been sleeping well, especially on the nights when either she or one of us coughed all night long.
Now, we’ve been healthy for a good two weeks and sleeping well. But…… we’ve still brought her to the bed when she wakes in the middle of the night. (oh, you knew I was going there.) I blame it entirely on my laziness and reluctance to struggle through some rough nights of sleep because you’ll recall that I view sleep deprivation as ultimate torture. And truth be told, Monchichi is such a snuggler; I love the feel of her small arms around my neck and her soft breathing. My husband has also been traveling a lot, and I don’t mind having her with me on those nights.
My book-reading brain tells me to bite the bullet and start retraining so she doesn’t rely on sleeping with us every night. I rationalize and tell myself, well, she does start out the night falling asleep on her own, in her bed. That’s good enough, right?? The emotional side says that the time with our little ones go by so fast and some day she’ll have no interest in sleeping with me, so I should cherish the memories now and throw caution to the wind. Also, after hearing from friends with older kids that it is likely that she’ll still crawl into our bed no matter what, for the next few years, I wonder what’s the point of struggling with this beast.
I’d love to hear about your sleep journeys and where you are with it today.